Task Force Seeking to have Anti-Trafficking Legislation Pushed Through Parliament


The National Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons (NTFATIP) is seeking to have a number of bills passed in Parliament, which are designed to strengthen the country’s fight against human trafficking.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Carol Palmer, who made the announcement at a forum held on (Sept. 27) at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston for young people, who participated in an Anti-Trafficking in Persons project, noted that the bills will include amendments to existing legislation and new guidelines in favour of the victims of trafficking crimes.
One bill expected to come under review is the Evidence Amendment Act, which she noted, will allow for greater protection of witnesses, especially child witnesses. She informed that the bill, which “is on the table of the House, will permit us to use evidence by TV link for these persons.”
Explaining the advantage of the process, Mrs. Palmer said that this will allow justice to proceed as the live TV link will encourage the sometimes emotionally and sometimes physically scarred victim to give evidence, without having to confront the offender.
In addition, amendments are being sought to the Incest Punishment Act and the Offences Against the Persons Act, “to make that a stronger piece of legislation.”
The government is also seeking to implement measures to combat cyber crime and child pornography, Mrs. Palmer said. “We are also drafting legislation to deal with cyber-sexual exploitation and that is become more and more a reality in the climate of Jamaica,” she pointed out, describing these crimes as a “detestable” trend that may have be influenced by a growing affinity to cable movies.
In the meantime, she noted that the Task Force was working on a Victims Charter that will grant compensation and restitution to victims. This charter, she elaborated, “will allow for the treatment of victims with dignity, respect, (and) fairness throughout the various stages of the justice process, and will enhance protection of victims through special arrangements such as enabling victims to testify, have a say in the punishment meted out to offenders and gain compensation and restitution”.
Mrs. Palmer added that the charter has benefited from extensive national consultation and the general feedback from “all our stakeholders” and the public supports offenders compensating the victim.
Other achievements in the bid to combat trafficking in persons, Mrs. Palmer said, include “mechanisms to contain punish and prevent trafficking in persons and remedy its negative impact. We have established trafficking in persons’ guidelines and procedures to inform appropriate interventions for the protection, rescue and reintegration of victims, to enable the police and community leaders to understand trafficking in persons; community-based intervention targeting victims and those vulnerable to trafficking in persons.”
In addition, she noted that the Trafficking in Persons Act, and the landmark Child Care and Protection Act have provisions to protect children, and vulnerable persons.
In the meantime, Mrs. Palmer commended the young persons for participating in the Anti-Trafficking in Persons project implemented by the People’s Action for Community Transformation (PACT) in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Four community-based organizations: Children First, Church Action Negril (Theodora Project), Western Society for the Upliftment of Children and Women’s Centre Foundation of Jamaica are the participating partners in phase two of the project, which commenced May 1, 2007, will end on September 30. The forum was held to review and highlight the project’s impact based on its original goals and methods.

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